Leader of German Anti-Islam Group Resigns From Board

AP Photo/Jens Meyer
AP Photo/Jens Meyer

The leader of the Pegida anti immigration movement which has been causing tremors across Germany has this evening resigned from the board of the organisation after posting an image of himself as Adolf Hitler online.

Lutz Bachmann posted the image with his hair combed straight and over to one side and a toothbrush moustache on the social networking site despite weeks of denying having Nazi sympathies.

The story broke as an estimated 100,000 people gathered in Leipzig for the latest protest after the event organised in Dresden was banned.

Mr. Bachmann, 41, told Bild that he was stepping down from the movement’s leadership. Earlier in the day, he declined to comment on the image when reached by telephone. Nor would he address another exchange on social media in which he is quoted as having referred to immigrants as “scumbags,” “stupid cows” and “trash.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who grew up in East Germany during the Soviet occupation, has been vocally opposed to the group, whose acronym stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.

And there were claims on German newspaper websites that the authorities were looking to investigate Herr Bachmann for sedition.

“Anyone involved in politics who dresses up as Hitler is either pretty much an idiot, or a Nazi,” he added.

Pegida’s leaders have largely avoided talking to the news media, and advise their followers to do the same, contributing to an air of mystery about the organization’s origins.

Last month a local Sunday newspaper reported Bachmann’s criminal record, including numerous counts of burglary, something he did not comment on when asked by journalists.